Best Budget CPU For Gaming 2020 : Buying Guide & Reviews

Expert Contributor

Jeff Day

If you are building your first gaming rig then you have some learning to do before you start buying and assembling components. Whilst you would be right in saying your most expensive component should be your graphics processing unit, other components can’t be neglected or you will end up with bottlenecks.

If you already have a motherboard then you will need to make sure that your new CPU fits into the motherboard’s socket. If you are buying both new, then you will need to decide which CPU you are buying before settling on any motherboards you come across.

Your CPU should be powerful enough to support your graphics processing unit and cheap enough that you can spend the more on your graphics processing unit. This balance is important.

Good gaming CPUs are not easy to get. Even when you find the CPU to suit you, it will cost you an arm and a leg to get it off the shelves.

Therefore, it is advisable that you find out if there is any that are within how much you are willing to spend. Getting a cheap CPU that still offers similar quality can be easy if you do a good background check of the market. In this latest update, we have compiled a list of budget CPUs that you can choose from.

Before we get into the list, here are some features you may want to look at. You may also want to consider different components to maximise your gameplay, such as the best cheap graphics cards for gaming.

When you are reading through the reviews of various CPUs below, you’ll see these factors manifest themselves. They are key in your decision making.

Best Budget CPU For Gaming

1. Intel Core i3-9100F

Intel Core i3-9100F

Best Features: high base clock speed. Extremely well suited for gaming systems.

Design specifications

The 9100F is clocked at 3.6 Ghz and features intel’s turbo boost technology for the first time in any i3 chip. this helps it reach a whopping 4.2 Ghz clock speed. Being an F series chip, it has no integrated graphics so you WILL need a graphics processing unit to pair with this CPU. This helps this be priced under 100 and since you are gaming you will be getting a GPU anyway. Win-Win in my opinion.

This CPU can take full advantage of 64 GB of DDR4 RAM but in reality this is overkill and most systems using this will have 16 or maybe even 32GB at a push. This is extremely well paired with a unit such as a GTX 1070 or a RX580. If you accompany this with a decent GPU that offers great gaming performance, then this could be the best budget processor for gaming available on the market today!


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2. AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

AMD Ryzen 3 3200G

Best Features: APU runs games as well as some dedicated graphics cards. High base and boost clock speeds. VERY affordable.

Design specifications

This is the ryzen 3200G an exceptional low priced CPU due to the fact that it comes featured with a low end dedicated GPU. So AMD officially call these APU’s.

This is based on the zen+ architecture the older ryzen chips used but with a few upgrades. So while this is still a 4 core CPU the base clock speeds for both the CPU and GPU were increased from 3.5 base to 3.6 and 3.7 Ghz boost to 4 boost. While on the GPU you are going from 1100 Mhz to 1250 Mhz.

If you don’t want or cant afford a graphics card, then this should be considered amongst some of the finest $100 you can spend on any gaming PC. It really is the best CPU for gamers who can only spend so much, but are still wanting a powerful gaming rig.

This is the why this CPU has found its way onto almost every single cheap gaming desktop ranking you can find since its release in 2019. This is a perfect option for replacing any under-performing CPU as it offers compelling gaming power at an impressively low cost.


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3. AMD Ryzen 3 2200G Processor

AMD Ryzen 3 2200G Processor

Best Features: Solid 60 fps in 720-pixel games. Its clock can hit 3.5GHz and can also boost frequency to up to 3.7 GHz. Enmotus technology comes into play.

Design specifications

Trying to play 4K games with this process may be futile. However, you can appreciate that this processor has a great graphics unit supplied alongside it. Zen architecture is a sophisticated technology that powers this processor. it integrates good graphical prowess and amazing speed that make the user experience better.

With a combination of both Vega, the most recent GPU architecture, and the latest CPU technology, gamers can enjoy its 14nm Raven Ridge. Vega architecture borrows graphics from AMD. It’s quite easy to use the generation graphics in the processors’ chips.

This is an contender when it comes to the best CPU under 200 which you can play games using the integrated graphical unit and save for a powerful GPU. The integrated graphics makes matches the performance of some dedicated graphical processing unit cards like the GTX 1030. Meaning the gaming performance with just the CPU is pretty impressive.

Any of the models which have a G in their naming convention have built in graphic chips which make them the great for gaming when you cant afford a GPU.

The AMD Ryzen 3 and 5 CPUs feature G models, so be sure to keep a look out for them as the offer compelling processing speed at a low cost. AMD’s Ryzen line of CPUs is a perfect choice for featuring the CPU best for gaming.

Convenient features

Basing its functionality on the AMD 300 series chipset, the CPU runs on an AM4 socket that already exist.

Gamers can save denting their wallet by pairing the A320 and B350 chipsets instead of going for costly alternatives. Some of the options you may take include the X370 chipsets. Although they are more efficient, you may not find it a costly option, especially if you’re working within pricing restricitons.

These convenience features make it the most desired by novice gamers. Instead of paying an arm and a leg to enjoy your first gaming rig, you can take it as a cheaper option. It offers solid performance and enhances your overall gaming experience with features such as the 1280 pixel resolution.


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4. AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor

AMD Ryzen 3 1300X Desktop Processor

Best Features: It can get up to 60fms. It overclocks without overheating the components. It can work conveniently with the cheaper B350 platforms. On FXR, the frequencies get to up to 3.9GHz. Comes with a good cooler and a fan for additional cooling.

Design Features

It is another cheap with good performance invention by AMD. This CPU has four cores but costs relatively lower than you would expect it to.

Also, it features the Zen architecture that gives users the finest gaming experience of their lives. You will love this model, especially because it will serve you well for graphic design and 3D tasks.

Although AMD may produce other models in the future, You shouldn’t be required to change or upgrade your CPU any time soon.

This is so because its design favors VR. Also, it is programmed to a 2+2 design. What AMD has done to it is quite simple, disabling a pair of cores but at the same time, producing more threads.

Convenience features

The base frequency of this CPU hits 3.2HGz. With turbo boost, you can crank it up to 3.6GHz. Also, on XFR, you can get the speeds to 3.9GHz.

Therefore, it has the power to be amongst the most adaptive CPUs as it can conform to your needs and wants easily. Also, AMD could not forget to configure it to their AM4 platform.

It allows you to pair it with multiple motherboards; therefore, increasing its potential.


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5. Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core Processor

Intel Core i7-2600 Quad-Core Processor

Best Features: Has four cores that can run up to speeds of 3.4GHz. Has hyper-threading technology that makes multitasking possible. Getting vector extensions is not a problem. With its graphics you can manage speeds of up to 850GHz while 1350GHz is possible with turbo speeds. You can create virtual environments easily.

Design Features

Are you a 3D games lover? Are you searching for the finest core performance?

If so then this processor will serve you well. Intel Core i7-2600 2nd gen core processor, unlike many CPUs, uses four threads to give you good user experience.

For pro gamers who may be interested in more sophisticated gigs, finding a more expensive CPU may be an option. However, for most gamers, this processor can be a good option.

Convenience features

For a better 3D experience, this processor comes with inbuilt visuals. It may not be a bad option for regular graphic needs, either. Also, it won’t let you down in case you want to have a taste of the VR.

It is important to note that this hardware lets you create different virtual environments. With this flexibility, playing on the same CPU each day is not a problem.

The convenience features above make this processor fast and high performing. Also, it can multitask and offer you the best visuals.

Besides, you can have a better experience because the processor can hit the high speeds you crave. That’s not all as all of this is offered at an especially low price, so you can relax knowing your gaming PC hasn’t made too much of a dent in your wallet.


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Best Budget CPU for gaming worth Under $200

6. AMD Ryzen 5 3600

AMD Ryzen 5 3600

Best Features: Excellent Value For Money. Good Stock Cooler. Great Gaming Experience at this price point.

Design features

Taking a look at this AMD Ryzen desktop processor you can see that it is a 6 core CPU that has a base frequency of 3.5 and, when boosted, a clock speed of up to 4.2 Ghz. This CPU is the main competitor for the Intel core i5 9600k and is main reason why that CPU doesn’t feature in this article. As this offers comparable gaming performance at a much lower price, it is no wonder why this is an excellent option for your gaming rig.

Now the 12 threads are not wasted, the multi core performance and extra cores means this is easily a contender when it comes to the best mid tier CPU’s for tasks such as 3D rendering, video editing and other productivity tasks. provided alongside this gaming processor is the standard wraith stealth CPU cooler, although not as powerful as a wraith spire it is still an excellent cooling option.

When it comes to gaming benchmarks this is a perfect match for any GPU available for purchase today. This can easily be considered the top pick when it comes to finding a CPU for gaming at $200 due to it being second to none. If you are looking for a cheap CPU that offers exquisite gaming performance alongside high frame rates, then this AMD desktop processor is an excellent choice.


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7. AMD Ryzen 5 2600

AMD Ryzen 5 2600

Best Features: Great value for money. Excellent for all applications. Best CPU under $150.

Design features

This next CPU is a candidate for the top gaming CPU under $150 as this older gen card ,which is the predecessor to the 3600 we talked about above, has some impressive price to performance scores.

This 6 core 12 thread CPU is a direct competitor to the coffee lake i5 series, such as the 8400.

A major bonuses that is included with this desktop processor is that you can overclock this from its base clock speeds of 3.4 without worrying about lowering the CPU’s overall lifespan.

The desktop processor also has an advantage in core heavy workloads as the hyper threading effectively allows this CPU to work with all 12 cores at once. This is great for video editing, 3d rendering and beats the 6 threads of the coffee lake i5’s. For 1080p gaming purposes, multi-threading is excellent as it allows you to reach high frame rates without worrying about pushing your CPU to it’s limit.

This makes it a superb gaming processor and makes light work of any games. Due to the lack of an integrated graphical chipset however, you will need a dedicated GPU. The best graphics cards for this tend to be high-end options such as the GTX 1070.


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8. Intel Core i3 8350K Desktop Processor

Intel Core i3 8350K Desktop Processor

Best Features: It can overclock and enhance your gaming performance. It is also unlocked for higher efficiency. It can do up to 12 different tasks at one go because of the hyperthreading technology. It has an optane memory. It features a UFHD graphics 360 software.

Design features

Even without hyper threading, this desktop processor has up to four cores. If you’ve used earlier versions of core i3, you may have experienced resolution challenges. That is not heard of with this processor.

The four physical cores allow it to handle several; high demanding tasks at a go. Also, there are extra features that come with it. You can record your games and even share with friends giving you the best player experiences.

Overclocking is not necessary with this processor. It can hit high clock speeds of up to 4.7GHz even without it. Therefore, integrating it with the latest GPU is simple. Once you integrate the two, you can experience high gaming performance, speeds and better visuals.

Convenient features

This desktop processor lets you tweak its performance so as to have better user experiences. It works best with CPUs that have Intel 300 chipsets on their motherboards.

Also, it has nonvolatile memory chips that allow it to store data even when your desktop shuts down unexpectedly due to a power cut.

That means the system is of high efficiency. Since it is unlocked, it can hit high speeds making the games even more enjoyable.

With all these magnificent features, this Intel desktop processor is a perfect fit for any gaming PC regardless of how much you are willing to spend!


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9. Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor

Intel Core i7-3770 Quad-Core Processor

Best Features: It integrates the use of 3D transistors. It can hit up to 3.9GHz speed. It supports PCI Express Gen 3. It has good audio that lets it support up to three independent displays. Data safety is made possible with the security features.

Design features

It is one of the best gaming CPUs on the market. It features incredible fps that gives you the best resolutions when playing different kinds of games. It can handle multiple processes in one go because it has four cores.

These cores are further made more efficient with the eight threads that come along with it. If you have no plans to add a GPU, you can still get a good experience with the HD 4000 graphics in the system. It clocks high speeds of up to 3.4GHz. Also, it has a turbo boost that can help the processor to hit 3.9GHz clock speed.

It is fairly similar to the i7-3770K series. The distinguishing feature between the two is the multiplier feature found in the i7-3770K range of CPUs as it can be unlocked to improve the user experience.

Convenient features

There are three technological aspects that make this desktop processor one of the best. First, it has a smart response that enhances the gaming experience. Secondly, it connects quickly to update apps and other features.

Also, the boot times can be reduced highly because of the rapid start feature. Wireless accessibility is made possible with the integrated USB 3 support feature.

Ideally, this processor not only supports your gaming needs but also can play a great role in many other functions. It features advanced technologies made by Intel, which can arguably be named a top tier CPU manufacturer. Therefore, your CPU can hit high clocking speeds, making it reliable for a multitude of different needs.


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10. Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor

Intel Core i5-7500 LGA 1151 7th Gen Core Desktop Processor

Best Features: It features a turbo boost 2.0 technology. Supports a 64GB with 4DDR RAMs for a better experience. It performs excellently when computing. It can use the latest video technology that allows upgrades. It can stream 4K HDR resolutions.

Design features

If you are a new gamer, you should try this desktop processor. Building a new game on this processor can be simpler than trying to upgrade an existing one. By itself, it can hit up to 3.4GHz speeds and 3.9GHz speeds on the turbo mode. It may not be the best for big games since it is not unlocked. Therefore, overclocking is not possible with this processor.

Some of the important features are that it comes with four cores and four threads that are basic for better user experiences. Also, it features a 6MB L3 cache that boosts its performance. There’s no need for an additional cooler because the unit TDP rating is 65W. Also, the manufacturer uses the 14nm core process that allows it to work on higher frequencies without using high voltages.

Convenient features

For a good gaming experience, a CPU should be able to hit high speeds. This CPU integrates graphics that offer a frequency of from 350MHZ and can reach maximum levels of 1GHz.

It is quite easy to integrate it with other CPUs without any challenges. Even for very demanding games, this desktop processor can produce 26.5fps.

For a budget of under $200, this is the best model you can when it comes to building your new gaming desktop.

Your CPU can handle up to 4K video qualities with significant video upgrades. The fur cores allow it to run multiple programs at one go. It does not only give a good resolution with regular games but also more advanced ones.


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CPU for gaming Buyers guide and FAQs

Considerations choosing budget CPU for gaming

AMD vs. Intel

The most contested argument among gamers and PC builders alike is whether you should go for an AMD or Intel gaming CPU. When it comes to planning your PC build you will mainly focus around how much your wallet can afford and what you are looking for in terms of performance. Classically, AMD has been cheaper while offering slightly less performance and Intel is typically more expensive but you are paying for more performance and faster clock speeds.

However these days it would be both niave and just plain wrong to think like this as both companies offer CPU’s which perform equally. We would say that the biggest difference is with AMD’s APU’s. Like the Ryzen 3400G for instance, this CPU can act as both a CPU and a GPU. For reference it performs about as well as the NVIDIA 1030 in games. This makes it a real wallet saver and offers cheap alternative when it comes to building entry level gaming PCs. Further down the road perhaps, when you have slightly more cash, then you can add a graphics card to this rig.

So if you have a lower pricing limit you might want to consider getting an AMD APU as they give you the finest CPU experience while saving you costs in the long run. However, if you want pure performance from the get go and how much this may set you back isn’t too much of an issue then there is no reason you cant go for either. Intel probably still has a slight edge when it comes to the high end machines.


Even though 6 core processors have started become the norm, games struggled to make use of more than 2. Now though game designers are utilizing the fact most PC builds have between 4 and 12 cores. Typically, you would want something which has at least minimum of 4 cores these days, especially a CPU that features impressive multi-threading or hyper-threading. This is especially important as multi-threading allows games and other similar tasks to ease out top performance from each core and can massively improve how your games run. This should also be pretty affordable and is extremely important if you want to get great performance in and out of games.

The more cores and faster clock speed a desktop processor has, the better it will be for rendering videos and live-streaming so if this is something you are into then you may want to consider getting a higher core processor. But if you are forced to chose between two processors then you may commonly find that a quad-core processor with a higher clock speed will outperform a 6 core with lower clock speed. Not only do CPU’s have cores, they also have whats called threads, virtual cores. So this is something else which is a little more minor to consider.

Clock speed

Clock speed just refers to how many computational cycles your processor can make in 1 second. The higher the MHz the more cycles your CPU will execute and the more mathematical problems it can solve. Now when you are gaming your GPU takes charge of the graphical load and your CPU will take charge of things like processing what characters do how they might move throughout the game world. Gaming processes such as NPC interactions, player inputs, collision detection and simulations. So having a good CPU is definitely not just an option, its required with demanding games these days.

Buying the best budget CPU for gaming: What to Consider

Contrary to popular belief you can get a really reliable desktop processor for under $200. But once you know your budget and what you are looking to get out of your CPU; the tasks you want it to perform, then you should have a good idea of what option to pick.

And if you have a very low budget going for an AMD Ryzen 3+ with an integrated graphical processing unit is a great option to tide you over until you can afford a great low priced GPU.

But asking the question, is this CPU suited for gaming and can it also offer compelling performance when it comes to other a majority of processes is always helpful.

Improved overclocking

Overclocking involves pushing more voltage to your CPU in order for it to run faster. Giving your CPU more power increases its clock but also causes your CPU to generate more heat. This shouldn’t be attempted by a novice or someone who doesn’t have a suitable cooling system as the temperature can rapidly increase due to the increased TDP. The last thing you want is to literally melt your CPU.

This is perfect for budget gaming – if you can push your CPU to its limits you’ll get much better performance. A gaming performance that can match a top tier product. Do NOT Try this if you aren’t experienced in overclocking. However, there are few free applications that can aid you when it comes to overclocking your CPU; it is far more accessible than it ever has been.

If you are consider overclocking your gaming CPUs then you will want to consider whether or not your CPUs cooling option is sufficient for that job. Due to the extra power that is generated and the higher clock speeds your CPU will reach, the temperature that is produced is far higher than usual.

This means you will need to offer better cooling than most stock CPU coolers will come with. Therefore, if overclocking is one of your considerations, you may want to invest in an aftermarket cooler, this way you can be sure your CPU isn’t damaged by this turbo boost.

Better functionality

The CPU can easily be considered the main component of a computer setup. Games with good graphics will always offer a better experience at higher resolutions, such as 4K. But that’s not all decent CPUs will offer, there is a reason they are commonly referred to as the “brain of a desktop”. Most items on your workload will be enhanced by a CPU that provides high performance and design power.

If you are expecting more from your gaming rig than just offering compelling game performance then the more functionality a CPU provides, the more bang for your buck you will get. If you are into hobbies such as editing videos and sound compilation, then a CPU that features additional functions such as hyper-threading is without a doubt an addition you should consider.

Also, some CPUs will allow you to edit videos, especially ones featuring 3D methods. If you invest in a good CPU, you will not need to buy another one to handle different types of work. This is especially important if you plan on using your desktop for a variety of different processes.

Things To Look Into When Buying a Cheap Gaming CPU


Each CPU is built with a specific Socket in mind that the CPU can fit within. This means that if you have a desktop with an Intel LGA1151 socket, only CPU’s built with that socket will fit into it and be able to be used.

This is why it’s important to decide which CPU you will get before buying your mother board. Ensuring that you check whether or not your CPU is compliant with your desktop is exceptionally important because if it’s not, it just won’t work.

Common sockets these days are AM4 for AMD and LGA1151 for Intel. Most CPUs are compatible with most sockets, but the largest difference you will find is between AMD and Intel CPUs as they typically have their own unique socket types.

Cache memory

Being one of the most overlooked features, cache memory can be very important when it comes to decent performance. Having more cache memory allows your CPU to have a constant supply of executions and functions to process.

This can really smooth out your CPUs performance. Cache is basically a smaller version of internal memory that can be accessed by the CPU extremely quickly, far faster than any other memory type.

It basically stores the most frequently used memory locations on your CPU so it can be accessed quicker than usual and help your desktop processor get the top performance it can.

It isn’t uncommon to find that there is a link between the cache featured on a CPU and the largest clock speed it can attain. If you are looking for a fine CPU for your favourite video games, then consider the size of a CPUs cache memory.

Energy consumption

CPUs that have a high TPD will utilize a large amount of energy and produce a lot of heat. Higher performance models will need a better PSU. so make sure you have sufficient wattage.

If you are contemplating overclocking your CPU then energy is without a doubt a factor you will have to consider. The more power a CPU draws, the more energy you can expect it to consume.

As overclocking basically allows a CPU to access more energy, then you can expect the energy consumption to rise rapidly. Ensuring your PSU can handle this increased energy use is essential. If it can’t then your desktop will struggle to run at all.

Ability to upgrade

These days you probably don’t need to think about upgrading your CPU. This is due to that fact that unless you are buying a better model with the same socket you will need to buy a new motherboard too.

This is why it is recommended to always try go for a really great model and keep it for 4/5 years and then upgrade when the newest zen architecture is released.

This is obviously the more pricey method but means less upgrading. If you are planning on upgrading a CPU however, always browse what sockets gaming CPUs require and check that your gaming desktop features these sockets.

Your budget

Although you may not have a variety to choose from, you can still get a high performing CPU at below $200. What should determine your choice is the type of game you intend to play. Some will require cheap CPUs while the rest require more sophisticated ones. You can get both a cheap Intel CPU or AMD CPU and still have best gaming CPU under 100.

If you plan on playing a lot of strategy and open world games then you can expect to require a slightly more powerful CPU as these games typically require more from a desktop processor. Try to keep your eyes peeled for hyper-threading and multi-threading CPUs as they will offer the best clock rate to core ratio.

Final thoughts

Finding a good CPU within your budget can be a little tricky. But with some research and understanding your goals it becomes much more simple. This article features some of the best CPUs you can buy with a more modest budget and get the most out of your money. Therefore, the price should not discourage you from enjoying games. Research well and you will easily find the greatest CPU for your needs.

About This Expert

Jeff Day